Shirley’s Story

Shirley, her son, and three of her grandchildren
Shirley, her son, and three of her grandchildren.

When Shirley Cockerham was selected as a Habitat partner family 17 years ago, she was as a single mother of four living with her sister and unable to call any particular place home.  Her sister also had children of her own, leaving little space in one house for both families.  Realizing she needed to secure a safe and stable environment for herself and her children, Ms. Cockerham decided to apply for the Habitat for Humanity Homeownership program.

When asked how it felt getting the call that she was approved for the program, Ms. Cockerham said, “I was excited because I knew I was fixing to get a house… I was so excited when I was going to move in – I could not wait!”

Habitat for Humanity’s primary mission is to provide “a hand up, not a hand out.”  Ms. Cockerham, like all other partner families, put in over 300 hours of sweat equity towards building her home.  Our home ownership loans usually carry a no interest term of 30 years. By making extra payments and applying her recent stimulus checks to her mortgage, Ms. Cockerham was able to accomplish paying off her home in just 17 years.

When asked how she felt about being able to pay off her home, she replied “like weight taken off my shoulders,” Only having to pay annual taxes and insurance on her home, she can now focus on raising her grandchildren and making the most of her recent retirement.

As part of the program, all partner families also participate in finance classes that help them prepare for homeownership.  These include classes on closing costs, how to budget on a low income, how to set money aside for emergencies and upkeep/maintenance needs to their homes.

Ms. Cockerham participated in these classes and found them helpful as she worked towards paying off her home.  “I found them helpful, yeah!  They helped show me how to manage my money.”  She fell behind on payments a couple times, but continued to push through.  “There were times I got sick and was out of work, or hours cut – money was short… but I put too much work into something to lose it.  I thank God for that!”

When asked what advice she would give to families who are thinking about applying for the home ownership program, Ms. Cockerham stated, “Just go for it; I mean, you have nothing to lose!  It is not like buying a house out on the market.  You are going to save a lot more.”

A lot has changed for Ms. Cockerham over the years.  Her children have grown up and moved on, but she is now caring for three of her grandchildren.  Though Ms. Cockerham has paid off her home loan with Habitat for Humanity, she will continue to have access to helpful resources and support through the agency.

In order to help change the lives of people like Ms. Cockerham, Habitat for Humanity Corpus Christi relies on grants, volunteers and generous donations from people like you! On average, the cost of building a habitat home is approximately $75,000-$85,000. We work hard to keep the costs minimal by getting some of the skilled labor needs donated and by developing community partnerships.

For information on how you can get involved, as a volunteer, by donating or as a potential family partner, call us at 361-289-1740 extension 1100 or email at